Highlights from the GAC

‘Advocacy is everyone’s job.’

February 24, 2016


As the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) wrapped up at the Washington Convention Center, many attendees headed to the U.S. Capitol to advocate for the movement.

Here are some highlights from GAC and Capitol Hill:


Last year at this time, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle was finishing his first GAC. “I felt like I was getting off a roller coaster,” he said. He reminded attendees that advocacy needs to take place all 52 weeks of the year, not just during the GAC. “Advocacy is everyone’s job,” he said.

CUs will have to accommodate the needs of “tech-savvy natives” as technology plays a larger role in the lives of future generations, said Tansley Stearns, Filene Research Institute chief impact officer, during Wednesday’s General Session. “This next generation of members is going to demand service that includes digital technology,” she said.


CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle presented the 2016 Buck Levins CU Political Activist Award to Rick Hein, president/CEO of Oregon State CU, Corvallis, Ore. The award, started in 2001, recognizes a CU individual for exceptional commitment to increasing the political strength of the movement, Nussle noted.


In celebration of the 20th anniversary of CUs for Kids, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle presented Joe Dearborn, Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals senior director, with a check for $150 million, representing the funds raised by the CU movement for CMN Hospitals during that time. The donations, raised a dollar at a time, go to respective CUs’ local CMN Hospital and support life-saving research, new facilities, equipment, patient services, and health education programs that benefit 10 million children annually.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said it’s imperative for Congress to come together to decrease regulatory burden on Main Street financial institutions. “Legislation that was designed for ‘too big to fail’ has turned many CUs into ‘too small to succeed,’” she said Wednesday.

Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, a lead author for data breach legislation, pledged his support for expanding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau board to five members. “We don’t want just one person telling us what to do in the years to come,” he said Wednesday.


Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., asked GAC attendees to garner support for the bill he co-introduced, the CU Small Business Jobs Creation Act (H.R. 1188). “As you see your members of Congress and the Senate, get them engaged,” he said Wednesday. “Let’s get them on the record and build a co-sponsor list.”

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., sent CU advocates off to their Capitol Hill visits with these words: “CUs play an absolutely vital role in our financial lives—not just in good times but, especially, in bad times.”

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, said 127,000 of his constituents are CU members. “You really are a lifeline to them,” he said. Stivers is seeking House colleagues’ signatures on a letter to urge the CFPB to protect CUs from regulatory burden.

Indiana University CU President/CEO Bryan Price (left) and CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle (right) recognized P.A. Mack Jr. for decades of service to CUs. President Jimmy Carter named Mack to the first NCUA board as vice chair in 1979. He served in that position under President Ronald Reagan as well.

Brad Sherman

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., thanked "the largest group of financial executives in one room where no one took a TARP bailout." Sherman has introduced, and supports, a number of CU-friendly legislation, including bills that support supplemental capital and more member business lending.

Joe Donnelly

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., a CU member for the past 43 years, said the best way to pass legislation is to come to Washington, D.C. and talk to legislators. He also thanked CUs for providing American families the opportunity to chase their dreams by making homes, cars, and student loans affordable.

From left, Dan McCue of Alaska USA FCU, Cortney Angeley of SchoolsFirst FCU, Geoff Lundfelt of Alaska USA FCU, Josh Smith of SchoolsFirst FCU, Charles Papenfus of Inland Valley FCU, Dianne Ballesteros of CU Executives Society, Rep. Peter Aguilar, D-Calif., Vanessa Alonso-Gonzalez of Comunidad Latina FCU, Bill Cheney of SchoolsFirst FCU, and Barbara Bean of Cal Poly FCU gathered during a Hill visit Wednesday. Aguilar is a former CU vice president.

Iowa CU leaders met with Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, Wednesday to discuss CU issues. Loebsack, a supporter of a bill to allow CUs to raise supplemental capital, heard from his fellow Iowans about the outreach they provide to underserved communities. That includes services in multiple languages, immigration loans, and CUs’ increasing presence in the auto loan marketplace.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., left, discusses CU issues with California CU leaders Wednesday outside of his office on Capitol Hill. Huffman has supported a number of CU bills, including one that would allow CUs to perform more member business lending.

CU leaders from North Carolina fill the office of Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., Wednesday to discuss CU regulatory burden and potential legislative solutions. The Carolinas CU League quoted CUNA’s regulatory burden study to Pittenger, showing exactly how much CUs spend on compliance with regulations as opposed to serving their members. Pittenger recently signed a letter calling for an extended examination cycle from NCUA.

Mike Lanotte, senior vice president/general counsel for the New York CU Association, prepared a delegation from New York for a Hill visit with Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y. The group strongly voiced the importance of reducing regulatory burden on CUs.

Paul Stull (left), president/CEO of the CU Association of New Mexico, and dozens of CU advocates from the state held a luncheon with staff from the office of Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to ensure the lawmaker understands the true costs of regulatory burden on CUs at both the state and federal levels.

Nearly 70 CU advocates from Hawaii made the trip to Washington, D.C., for the CUNA GAC, and the full group met with Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Wednesday on Capitol Hill. The advocates expressed concerns about cybersecurity—an issue Hirono said is one of her “largest concerns.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., sounded nearly as informed on the issues facing CUs as anyone walking around GAC during a visit with South Carolina CUs. In fact, he told the group that he was well aware of their efforts to support changes to field of membership rules.

A roomful of CU advocates from South Carolina met with Nick Myers, financial services staff member for Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Wednesday. The group brought a number of CU priorities to light for the staffer, including merchant data security and regulatory burden.

Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., told a large delegation of Louisiana CUs Wednesday that he’s interested in putting together a streamlined tax reform plan. He assured those in the room, however, that taxing CUs was “off the table.”